A History Lesson
Israel continued to conquer in Canaan until the Lord gave them rest from their enemies. Joshua distributed the land among the tribes, and now he explains that it is his time to go the way of all the earth. He gathers the leaders of Israel one last time at Shechem to address the future and renew the covenant before he dies. Shechem had great significance because it was there that Jacob bought a parcel of land and built an altar to the Lord. This place serves as a visual and historical reference point as Joshua calls the people to faithfulness and service. Joshua begins with an important phrase, "Thus says the Lord." The history lesson begins with Abraham who worshiped and served other gods. God took Abraham brought him into Canaan and gave him Isaac. God gave Isaac Esau and Jacob who made his way to Egypt with his family. God sent Moses and Aaron, plagued Egypt, and brought them out of Egypt using plagues. God continues to remind the people all that he has done for them. He brought their fathers to the Red Sea and shielded them with darkness, parted the sea, led Israel through, and then drowned the Egyptians. God gave his people victory over the Amorites and gave Israel their land. God delivered them from Moab despite the king's efforts through Balaam. God brought them over the Jordan gave their enemies into their hands. God had saved, delivered, and blessed his people with a land they did not work for, cities they did not build, and the fruit of the land that they did not plant. God has shown grace, mercy, and favor to his people. Their history was replete with examples of his goodness and his faithfulness.
Who Will You Serve?
Joshua recounted all these things, and now this elderly leader called his people to serve the Lord in sincerity and faithfulness. Israel belonged to God so they must put away the gods their fathers had served and serve the Lord. Just as Jacob had buried the gods that his wives and concubines brought in Shechem (Genesis 35:2-4), so now Israel must choose who they will serve and worship. Joshua was clear about his choice; he was resolved along with his house that they would serve and worship God alone. The people answer that they would not serve these other gods since it was the Lord that had done all these wonderful things for them. These leaders were determined that they would serve the Lord. However, Joshua challenges their answer declaring that they were not able to serve the Lord alone and because he is holy and jealous, their sin would be judged, and he would do them harm. The people insist that they will worship and serve the Lord and Joshua calls them to witness against themselves for their pledge. Joshua speaks to their current lapse into idolatry and calls them to put away the foreign gods among them and follow the Lord wholeheartedly. The people reiterate that they will worship and serve the Lord and Joshua made a covenant with them there in Shechem. Joshua wrote down these words in the Book of the Law of God and marked the place with a large stone. The stone served as a witness and would be a place to call to account the actions of the people. Joshua dismissed the people to their inheritance.
Joshua served the Lord faithfully and saw God do amazing things during his one hundred ten years. After his death, Joshua was buried in Timnath-Serah, the land of his inheritance. Israel served the Lord during the days of Joshua and the elders who outlived him but had been witness to all that God had done. The book ends with two historical notes. The bones of Joseph finally came to rest in Shechem. Moses had carried the bones out of Egypt, and Joshua had delivered them to their rightful place. The second records the death of Eleazar, the son of Aaron who served as the high priest alongside Joshua. Israel finally had a land to call their home.
Things To Consider:
- Do you have any places that hold special meaning in your life?
- What makes them unique?
- Do you have any places that you return to because of something God has done in your life?
- Why must leaders who want to be faithful stick to the word of God?
- What great things has God done for you in the past?
- Why does God tell the people that the blessings they enjoy are because of what he has done?
- Why do we forget all that God has done and instead lament the things that he has not done?
- Why must the worship of God be exclusive?
- Why is God the only one worthy of our worship?
- Why must we daily choose to serve the Lord?
- Why did Joshua tell the people they are not able to serve the Lord?
- Why does disobedience result in discipline?
- How can we incline our hearts toward God?
- What faithful leaders does God have in your life?
- Have you spoken words of grace over them and thanked them for their faithful service? Will you today?